Sunday, December 12, 2010
Luxury cars: BMW beats Mercedes for top slot
German auto major BMW has regained top slot in January-November period after a fierce battle for numbers with compatriot Mercedes Benz in the Indian luxury car market, inching closer to be the leader in 2010.After losing its numero uno position last year to BMW, Mercedes Benz had beaten compatriot BMW to the race for the top spot in the Indian luxury car segment in January-July period of the year with a 79.31 per cent jump in sales.However, according to the latest Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) figures, BMW has made a strong comeback and sold 5,345 units compared to 5,109 units sold by Mercedes Benz during the last 11 months of this year.BMW posted a jump of 60.17 per cent during the period over 3,337 units sold in the corresponding period last year. Mercedes Benz's sales soared by 75.27 per cent compared to 2,915 units sold in the year-ago period, SIAM said.In 2009, BMW emerged as the top luxury car maker in India with a jump of 33.78 per cent at 3,619 units. It had sold 2,705 units in 2008.Mercedes Benz, on the other hand, had sold 3,247 units in 2009 against 3,625 units in 2008, a decline of 10.42 per cent.Industry experts are of the view that as only one month is left to end the year, it is unlikely that Mercedes Benz will spring any "surprise".The firm, which once ruled the Indian luxury car market, is not aiming to be the numero uno anymore. The market is expected to cross 15,000 units mark this year.Last week, when it was asked if the company would be the market leader in the segment this year, Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director and CEO Wilfried Aulbur had said: "We are not concentrating to be the number one. Our focus is on profitable growth and we are investing heavily on customer relationship."Another German firm, Audi is also gradually increasing its strength in the segment, selling 2,803 units in the January-November period, as against 1,645 units in the comparable period last year, clocking growth of 70.40 per cent.BMW has an assembly facility at Chennai and had recently hiked its production capacity to 5,400 units per year on a single shift basis from 3,000 units earlier. It will further invest Rs. 70 crore by 2012 to add more capacity.Mercedes Benz has its plant at Chakan in Maharashtra. The company has just started the second shift operation to produce 10,000 units every year from an annual output of 5,000 units earlier. Besides, it is investing Rs. 200 crore to set up a paint shop at the plant over the next 18 months.